Presenting Clicker Questions with an Open- vs. Closed- Response Format

Published in the December 2015 Issue of Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education

This study offers some evidence of the benefits of using open clicker questions (not revealing the multiple response options at first), specifically highlighting  a positive impact on middle performing students.

Abstract: Active learning can improve student learning but can be more difficult to use in large classrooms.  Course response systems (clickers) can be used to increase active learning and student discussion.  In this study, students in a large introductory biology course were given clicker questions in different formats. Students were first presented with an open response question on a PowerPoint slide where no potential answers were visible. After peer discussion, the same question was presented with potential answers in a multiple choice format and students used their clickers to answer.  For comparison, the same questions were asked in a different section of the same course but all questions were in the standard multiple choice format.  The results show that C students perform better when required to create their own answer for the question.  The instructor also noted that student discussions were longer, most likely because students had to discuss the biology rather than just confirming a specific answer choice.

[Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education; Vol. 16, No 2; pp: 254-255]